Eric Newman's family has been making cigars for a very long time. The JC Newman Cigar Company has been in business since 1895 and made Ybor City their home in 1954.
"We're making cigars the same way we made them 80 years ago," Newman proclaimed.
That means his family's company has seen and survived an awful lot. But now Newman says there's a new issue that's threatening his bottom line.
"They are making noise and they are researching and talking about regulating the cigar industry, which has gotten us so concerned and so nervous," said Newman.
Back in 2009, the Food and Drug Administration was given the authority to possibly regulate the cigar industry much like cigarettes.
It's not clear what the regulations would look like, but health officials say one thing is clear -- cigars are just as dangerous as cigarettes.
"When you smoke these products, they still put you at substantial risk for a variety of cancers," said Melissa Blank of the Moffitt Cancer Center.
That could mean limiting the size and shape of cigars, marketing restrictions, and even graphic warning signs on cigar boxes -- an idea that doesn't sit well with Newman.
"One of our good selling cigars, Diamond Crown Julius Caesar, there's a picture of my grandfather on the label when he was 20 years old," said Newman. "I'll be danged if I'm gonna put a picture of a dead baby, just because the government says so, right next to my grandfather."
Newman says regulations could hurt the cigar industry, a business with deep roots in Tampa.
"It would really hurt sales, hurt business, it would cost a lot of jobs in the industry," said Newman.
That said, he has backing in Washington. Two bills, one in the House and the other in Senate, are aimed at curbing regulations for the cigar business.
Both bills remain in committee.
And even though regulation makes the future for cigars uncertain, Newman says he doesn't plan on rolling over.
"Just don't regulate us out of business, that's our issue," he added.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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